Impostor (2001) / Sci Fi-Thriller

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for intense sci-fi violence, some sensuality and language (re-rating)
Running Time: 95 min. (director's cut is 102 min.)

Cast: Gary Sinise, Madeleine Stowe, Vincent D'Onofrio, Tony Shalhoub, Mekhi Phifer
Director:
Gary Fleder
Screenplay: Caroline Case, Ehren Kruger, David Twohy (based on the Scott Rosenberg adaptation of the Philip K. Dick story, "The Impostor")
Review published January 4, 2002

Although filmed two years ago, Impostor finally hits the big-screen and given the subject matter, it's still to soon to release a film which deal with terrorist acts, albeit in an interplanetary setting.  Perhaps I am reading into this too much, but check out the plotline and see for yourself:

Spencer Olham (Sinise, Mission to Mars) is a wanted man.  Not for anything he's done, but for what the government and its agents think he might do.  You see, it's the year 2079 and Earth is in war with another race of being on Centauri, and the latest plot in the war is Centauri's use of replicants who replace prominent humans on Earth who are close to key figures in leadership.  These replicants are the same in every way to their human counterparts save one thing:  they have a bomb in their hearts which has the force of nuclear proportions.  Spencer is the latest person to be suspected of being a replicant after his spaceship crashes and he is walking around alive, but now he is on the run trying to prove he is the real Spencer to the government -- and for his own peace of mind.

Being based on a story by Philip K. Dick, who also penned the inspiration for such sci-fi film classics as Blade Runner and Total Recall, I had some hopes that his intelligence would somehow be able to inspire more cinematic excellence.  It was not to be, as Impostor is a rather old-fashioned paranoia thriller, very similar to the types of stories written during the McCarthy era, with people worried about the motivation of their fellow man and whether they were the seekers of their own people's destruction.

 To cut right down to the chase, Impostor is a space age version of The Fugitive (which is no surprise as screenwriter David Twohy (Pitch Black, Waterworld) worked on both screenplays), with Sinise as Dr. Kimball out to save his own ass in a world out to get him.  D'Onofrio (The Cell, The 13th Floor) is the equivalent of The Fugitive's Deputy Gerard, yet neither actor is as compelling as their 1993 counterparts, nor is the storyline which starts off mildly intriguing before becoming formulaic and in the end resorting to unsatisfying gimmickry.

Impostor is pulp sci-fi at its most forgettable.  Decent special effects and some passable acting are its only saving graces in what amounts to 95 minutes of redundant tedium.  With a few more curveballs in the plot, snappier dialogue and characters, and some more appealing actors, Impostor might have been made into some solid science fiction.  Still, it would be a tough sell for a film about terrorist cells to find a niche in today's post Sept. 11 society regardless of how good the film is.  Luckily for us, the film is bad enough that we won't mind avoiding it regardless of the reasons.

Qwipster's rating:

2002 Vince Leo